Anyone who knows me knows I love to tweak recipes almost from the get go.
I tweak things for lots of reasons: dietary restrictions, nutrition, and most importantly – taste!
Here is a perfect example of this tendency. It was a recipe I discovered in a magazine, but wanted to change things up.
I was unsure how it would go over with the ever picky family troop (I only added yellow potatoes to the recipe b/c my husband and oldest are averse to sweet potatoes), but it was delicious!
The texture and flavors marry perfectly…even though the ingredients by themselves don’t draw me in, the sum of all the parts together is really delicious.
Perfect for cool days! Enjoy!
Additional vegetable options:
I consider this a base recipe. Some various vegetables would make great additions! Sauté any additional veggies with the onions until tender.
- diced carrots, parsnips, turnip, rutabaga
- frozen peas can be mixed into the ground beef at the end
- finely diced cauliflower is always a good option!
Shepard’s pie origin
It always fascinates me to learn of a dish’s origin. As with many a recipes, this recipe was based on housewife trying to use economical ingredients and various leftovers!
Potatoes were readily available and cheap ingredient throughout Ireland and England in the 1700 AND 1800’s. And beef was very popular in England. So when a large roast was painstakingly cooked in ancient kitchens, you had to put all your leftover meat to use somehow…..and why not with some leftover mashed potatoes? Or maybe some leftover steamed fresh green beans in the mix?
So the cottage pie or shepard’s pie was born. Traditionally a crust of potatoes with seasoned beef (per the chef’s desire) and finally topped again with more potato.
Delicious and filling!
My version uses a modern cut of meat: ground beef. And instead of potatoes, I decided to experiment with a sweet potato topping for a healthier carb option. You could use white sweet potatoes to keep the traditional look! Learn how to make a baked sweet potato here.
Can I use any different meat?
For sure, use any favorite ground meat. Lamb would be another traditional option! Ground bison, venison, elk would be my next choices.
Whole30 cottage pie
This recipe is easily made Whole30!
You can choose whether to use sweet potato or white potato, both are acceptable.
When you make your preferred mash topping, you will use ghee and an unsweetened non dairy milk, like almond or coconut. No cheese.
Only unsweetened ketchup or tomato sauce.
And when you thicken the hamburger mix, use cassava flour!
How about a low carb or keto shepard’s pie?
Cauliflower makes THE best mash for those watching their carbs! Thicken the beef mixture with 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum, then make a batch of this keto cheesy cauliflower mash for the topping!
Additional ground beef recipes
Ground beef is easy to get and generally quite economical. It is a great meat for families! Here are some of our family’s favorite recipes that use it!
- My cowboy barbecue skillet is one of our favorite camping meals! With bacon, BBQ sauce, and pinto beans, you’ll feel like you’re out on the range like a cowboy too!
- This easy Cuban picadillo is another one with a surprising combo of flavors that just WORK!
- My ground beef stir fry is on the table in less than 30!
- These low carb meatballs look amazing!
Easy Shepard’s Pie Recipe w/ Sweet Potato:
If you get a chance to make this homey dish, be sure to come back and leave a comment a star rating below!
Not-So-Traditional Shepard's Pie
Savory ground beef is cooked with vegetables in a savory gravy and topped with a cheesy sweet potato mash for a homey and comforting main dish!
For the topping:
- 2 medium sweet potatoes 1.5-2 pounds worth. I like Garnet or Jewell varieties, peeled and 2"dice. May use yellow or russet potatoes too, or any combo of the varieties!
- 1 teaspoon sea salt to taste
- 2 tablespoons ghee or butter
- 1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese or favorite dairy free cheese shreds like Daiya
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder optional. Add 1 teaspoon if you like more garlic flavor.
- non-dairy unsweetened milk this is ONLY necessary if using more starchy russet or yellow potatoes. Add enough milk to create a smooth and creamy mashed potato. Start with 1/2 cup.
For the filling:
- 1.5 pounds ground beef or lamb
- 1 medium yellow onion diced
- 4 cloves garlic minced or 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 1/2 tablespoons rice flour or any flour, this is just for thickening. Cassava for Whole30 and Paleo. 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum for keto.
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar or more taste
- 3/4 cup beef broth
- 2 tablespoons ketchup or tomato sauce for a sugar free option
- 1 can cut green beans or fresh steamed green beans
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley
- 3/4 teaspoon sea salt to taste
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Place the diced sweet potatoes (or whatever potatoes you've selected) in a pot of fresh salted water and bring to a boil. Cook until under fork tender and mashable. Apx 15-20 minutes. Remove and do the same with the yellow potatoes if you are using them.
Beef & Vegetable Filling
Meanwhile...sauté the ground beef, onion, and garlic in a large skillet over medium heat until lightly browned; pour off the fat if desired; return the skillet to the stove. Stir in rice flour. Stir in the ketchup, broth, herbs, and vinegar. Season to taste with sea salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer to thicken, then turn off.
Sweet Potato Mash
Drain the cooked sweet potatoes in a colander and place in a food processor...this is a little trick to make the sweet potatoes have an extra creamy mouth-feel with out lots of fat...it gives you the feeling like you are having a really rich cheesy topping! Mix in cheese and allowed butter and process for a minute or two until silky smooth (or mash it all together by hand if you want to forgo this step).
Mashed Potato Topping
Alternately, if using regular potatoes, mash them with butter and milk by HAND, using a hand masher. Unlike sweet potatoes, you can not process these or you will have some very gummy mash on your hands! You can mix in the cheese here too! Mash with enough preferred milk to create a smooth and creamy mashed potato. Starchier potatoes will require more milk, just keep going until it's nice a creamy and not super thick. Season with sea salt, ground pepper, garlic powder.
Layer the beef and veggie mixture in a casserole or baking dish.
Top with the mashed sweet potatoes, or the mashed cheesy potato.
Bake in the center of a preheated oven until bubbling and hot- about 25 minutes.
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